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Special Message from President Seligman (Aug. 25, 2014)
Special Message from President Joel Seligman
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Aug. 25, 2014
To: The University Community From: Joel Seligman Re: University Response to Sexual Misconduct

In the Sunday issue of the Democrat and Chronicle, a front page story focuses on the account of a student at the University of Rochester who last year was the victim of sexual misconduct at a party.

The story notes that when she brought a complaint, a disciplinary hearing occurred, and the student culpable of the sexual misconduct was disciplined, but the story also focuses on the pain and distress experienced by the victim and highlights a very important issue: no matter how diligent and sensitive a sexual misconduct investigation may be, it is almost invariably stressful and traumatic.

I wish this event and the others like it that have occurred on our campus never did. While this is not a common occurrence on our campus, no student, faculty or staff ever should be mistreated this way.

The single most important thing we can do about sexual misconduct is to try to prevent it. We have programming this week—and throughout the year—aimed at helping students avoid being victims and intervene effectively for friends at vulnerable moments, and at deterring misconduct. The message is “Stop. Ask. Clarify.”

When sexual misconduct does happen, please report it promptly. Help is available. You have several choices, which are outlined at

We have and will continue to take every step that we reasonably can to strengthen our ability to deter sexual misconduct and to aid any in the University community who are the victims of such assaults. Public Safety, for example, is currently training six female officers to assist with sexual misconduct investigations.

We also recognize that all students, including those accused of misconduct, have rights on our campus. The reason we diligently investigate complaints and require proof by a preponderance of the evidence is to ensure that we proceed in as fair and just a manner as is possible.

And let us not lose sight of the fact that we have wonderful and caring people on our campus. Virtually none are engaged in misconduct of any kind. Our students, faculty, and staff study, teach and work here in a supportive environment and one I hope can be rewarding for all.

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